Walleye wings worth salvaging

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The result of processing a limit of eight walleye wings becomes edible and non-edible pieces. Top left:16 fins. Top right: Eight wing skins and belly strips, which become cat food. Bottom left: 16 clear and bone-like pieces. Bottom right: The resulting meat, which can be used in tacos, sandwich spread and walleye cakes.

The subject of cooking walleye wings was discussed in this column during the December CBH Sunday edition. The wings are found on the breast or chest of the fish. Place the fish on its back after removing the two fillets from the sides. There are four fins near the head; the area between these fins is the wings.

It takes seconds to remove the wings, perhaps 30 seconds. An Internet Youtube video first alerted me to the value of this piece of meat. Some describe this meat as a delicacy and others say it provides gourmet eating.

The wings are usually battered and deep fried or simply fried in a little oil without a batter. They offer a bite or a few bites of sweet meat, depending upon the size of the fish.

Cooking the wings in either of these manners was a bit awkward and it was not a pleasant effort. Still, there was enough meat on this part of the fish to salvage in some way. Remember, it is against my nature to waste any scrap of meat from the fish, birds and animals taken by my hand.

A solution appeared, after pondering the idea for a few months. The cooking method was changed a bit and the approach to eating the meat was altered.

The wings do not require additional care when cut from the fish. They are simply rinsed, placed in a re-sealable bag and placed in the freezer. Later they can be thawed and cooked.

My walleye wings are cooked in one of two ways. One is to fry them in a little oil and the other is to heap a bunch on a cookie sheet and bake them. Once cooked, they are allowed to cool to the point of being easily handled. They could even be placed in the refrigerator and processed the next day.

Finishing the cooked wings to edible meat pieces is a matter of picking up each wing and separating the meat from the non-edible pieces. These include the fins, skin and a clear, but bone-like piece of hard material.

The skin has some fat attached. A long piece of belly meat, the piece left after filleting both sides of the fish, contains little meat, but is mostly fat. The fins and other boney pieces are discarded. My cats enjoy the skin and fat, which is chopped fine.

There is a substantial amount of meat available from the wings of a limit of eight walleye, depending upon the size of the fish, of course. The meat is the same consistency and taste as the fillet.

How can the meat be used? Think of the meat as leftover fillet meat and can be used in several ways. Recently tacos were on our evening menu, so fish tacos, using the wing meat, was on my plate.

The meat can be chopped even finer and mixed with mayonnaise, chopped onion, chopped pickle and made into a sandwich spread. This meat can be made into a walleye cake, similar to a crab cake and using the same ingredients.

The meat from a walleye wing is valuable to me. If at a fish cleaning station and another angler was filleting walleye and about to throw the wings away, my tendency is to ask if I could have them.

If permission is granted, the information about game or fish taken by another needs to be completed and signed by the giving angler.

Save the walleye wings this year and enjoy the resulting bounty of meat.

The meat of a single walleye wing is displayed with four other complete wings. The left wing has had the meat removed, but the two fins, skin and belly strip with skin and fat remain. Also shown is the pile of meat and the two clear and bone-like pieces.

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